Admittedly I am writing this about 2 hours before the polls close in Iowa, for whatever that is worth. By the time this shows up on Town Hall, Iowa will be on the books and we can all start worrying about New Hampshire and then maybe John Hunstman will finally get some interesting press.
I’m still new to the pundit/columnist game, so I’ll leave it up to my more experienced brothers and sisters in the Commentariot to hash out the results. Except for Ron Paul supporters, no one, not even Ron Paul is predicting that he will assume the mantle of Commander-In-Chief in November. Be that as it may Romney and Perry and for that matter maybe even Rick Santorum would be wise to lend an ear to the Paulians.
Now please remember, friends, Romans and country men I come neither to bury or to praise Paul. I know, Paul has his baggage. His foreign policy for one, not to mention the literature he published, albeit did not pen. And I’m not in the Paul Camp. (For the record I like Santorum, but I liked Cain to and look where that got me.) But it is surprising me who is.
In my part of flyover country, Paul has piqued the interest of many folks, from those on the extreme right to those left-leaning independents. And contrary to popular belief, those left-leaners are not interested in skewing the race for the sitting president.
Actually Paul for whatever crazy ideas he may represent in terms of foreign policy and publishing gaffes strikes a chord with more people than the GOP Regulars would like to admit. In fact I have had conversations with people who on one day have vociferously defended the Occupy Movement, and on a subsequent day vigorously support Ron Paul. I know for many of you, that does not compute. And for a while it didn’t for me, either.
I’ve talked to Paul supporters who are undeterred by his foreign policy and who are overlooking the anti-Israel, anti-black accusations in part because they can handily cite evidence to the contrary and also because as one listener told me Ron Paul is America First.
I would submit that the middle of the road voter is not so much interested in “Anybody but Obama” as they are in what the next four years holds. Polls have had the president ranked pretty low of late, and those undecided voters are worried about their jobs, and their bills. Much of what pundits and reporters cover means very little to someone who heaves a sigh of relief at the close of business that he didn’t get “riffed” that day. So when Paul speaks, he resonates with those in the middle who aren’t casting a ballot in Iowa, but feel let down by the leadership in Congress, the Senate and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Many of those in the middle honestly believed that the President was going to do great things, and when those things failed to materialize, people had high hopes for the Republican leadership. And of late, people are still waiting in some respects for Republican Leadership to materialize.
And to be honest, much, if not all of what Paul champions just isn’t realistic. No one is going to get rid of the Department of Education, and the Fed may be a nightmare but I’m willing to bet it’s here to stay. Likewise you can’t ignore Israel or Iran.
But Paul’s supporters, many of whom have become disgusted with people like John McCain or John Boehner who they see as stereotypical Test Tube Republicans feel that Ron Paul is speaking not only for them, but to them. While some of those people are the folks many GOP faithful try to avoid, many of them are people who are looking for a leader who they believe honestly cares about them.
And Romney, Perry, or whoever finally emerges as the lead dog after Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, Nevada or Lower Slobovia would do well to listen to Paul’s supporters. Whatever else may be said about them, I predict that they represent a broader base than the frontrunners would like to believe. Granted, the Paulians may not comprise enough voters to unseat the President, but they may speak for many Americans who feel that they have been left on the roadside by both parties.